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No.33 ,Economy  May 18, 2016

The Good and the Bad of a Negative Interest Rate Policy:
Zero Interest Rate on Cash Constrains the Policy’s Effectiveness
Fears of currency weakness inviting competition ― Market senses limits to monetary policy

UEDA Kazuo, Professor, University of Tokyo

The Bank of Japan blindsided most forecasts and decided to adopt a negative interest rate policy (a policy that sets the interest rate at below zero on current account deposits that banks keep with the BOJ) at its Monetary Policy Meeting on January 29. The context that can be suspected here is the concern, among others, that the economy would struggle further as a result of the great market volatility that has been occurring since the beginning of the year, as the inflation rate did not rise as intended despite the unprecedented quantitative and qualitative monetary easings that were implemented over a period of three years. In fact, expectations of inflation that can be ascertained from the inflation swap market – although problems exist in viewing it as an indicator – show that two-thirds of the rise in expectations of higher inflation, which had been ... [Read more]

No.32 ,Economy  May 03, 2016

Mr. Governor, when will we finally be free from deflation?
An 80-minute exclusive where we discuss everything from Abenomics to the his bazookas and his reading history

Mr. Kuroda, it was 20 March 2013 when you were appointed as the 31st Governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ). Almost three whole years have passed since then. Today I’d like to have you reflect back over your time as governor since your appointment, and to hear about your outlook for the future. Firstly, could you please tell us about the way in which Prime Minister Abe Shinzo approached you with regard to your appointment to the role of Governor?... [Read more]

No.31 ,Economy  Apr 24, 2016

Makeup Brushes, Kendama, and Sakata Seed…
Products Made-in-Japan and Recognized by the World
— Global Hits Offer an Uncompromising Quality

There are products made in Japan that win in the field of global competition, are recognized as international brands, and are praised by consumers around the world. How are hit products from Japan created? And why are they loved by people in other countries? We have visited six companies that are constantly devoted to creating products that make the most of Japan’s good quality. ... [Read more]

No.30 ,Economy  Mar 23, 2016

Is Relocation to Regional Cities the Equivalent of Abandoning Old people in the Mountains to Die?
Is the Long-Term Care Insurance System Sustainable? ―There are two issues to solve.

Kato Hisakazu, Professor, School of Political Science and Economics, Meiji University

Significance of Long-term Care Insurance and the Year 2025 Problem
Launched in April 2000, the Long-Term Care Insurance System is the newest social insurance system in Japan. The hardship faced by people giving family care began to be known widely to the public due to an older, full-length novel by Ariyoshi Sawako, which is titled Koukotsu no Hito (The Twilight Years). Since the late 1980s, the government has been addressing this issue by taking various measures, such as formulating the Gold Plan and the New Gold Plan to promote the establishment of facilities, the provision of welfare services at home, among other measures. However, it was difficult to address the issue fully with the welfare for the aged that was associated with the welfare placement system, or with the medical ... [Read more]

No.30 ,Economy  Feb 15, 2016

Google vs. Local Competitors in Japan
Any chance for the local competitors to win the AI market?

According to Sano Kyuuichirou, Director, Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), “We share a critical feeling that Japan will lose its competitive advantage in every industry if no action is taken immediately to address the country’s status of falling behind its foreign counterparts in the field of artificial intelligence.” METI announced an interim report entitled “Changes in the response to the arrival of a data-driven society using CPS” on May 21, 2015. (Please refer to the Figure 2.) CPS stands for Cyber Physical System, meaning a system that analyzes data related to real-world problems with artificial intelligence (AI) technology and sends the analytical results back to the real world. In the field characterized by the theme of a data-driven society using CPS, ... [Read more]

No.30 ,Economy  Feb 15, 2016

Yahoo’s Strategy to Compete with Google in Japan
World-class competition, A battle that cannot be lost

As the search engine giant, Google has a dominant market presence in Internet advertising by a significant margin. But Google doesn’t have a monopoly in every market. In Asia, in particular, local competitors have a great deal of importance within their own markets: Baidu in China; Naver in South Korea; and Yahoo with a stronghold over Japan. Please take a look at the figure on the lower right, which shows the search engine usage statistics for Japan. According to the statistical survey, Yahoo Japan (in red) has opened up a slight lead over Google (in blue) in terms of market share in Japan. It is true that Yahoo played a significant role in the early days of Internet services when they were first introduced to Japan in around 2000, and the company still maintains a strong brand image among search engine users in the country. ... [Read more]

No.29 ,Economy  Jan 25, 2016

Special report/Is it “time to sell” in Japan? – Shedding light on what happened
Full Details of the Second Stage of Abenomics

Yamamoto Kozo, a member of the House of Representatives, of the Liberal Democratic Party, has been involved with the drafting of Abenomics initiatives, advocating, if nothing else, large-scale monetary easing since before the second Abe Shinzo administration was formed. Yamamoto, who is also the chairman of the “group that makes Abenomics a success,” a Diet member caucus, was reportedly surprised and could not keep himself from displaying anger when he heard the announcement of the second stage of Abenomics on September 24. The content of the second stage caught him by surprise like a thunderbolt, ... [Read more]

No.29 ,Economy  Jan 14, 2016

The Approaches of Kyoto Companies
The secrets of competing in the international arena seen in the ancient capital

Kyoto is recognized as the Silicon Valley of Japan

“We would really like to go to Kyoto.” A delegation from a certain local government in Shanghai, China visited Japan in spring this year and communicated their wish to a private think tank. They did not want to go sightseeing in the ancient capital. “We regard Kyoto as the Silicon Valley of Japan. We would like to find the secret of its strengths,” said a member of the delegation. A favorite tourist destination around the world, with 1,200 years of history, Kyoto also has another face. As IT companies in the United States concentrate in Silicon Valley, outstanding manufacturers, especially electronics companies, concentrate in Kyoto. The presence of Kyoto manufacturers in the global manufacturing industry has been increasing. On September 25, the iPhone 6s was launched worldwide. Its leading feature is the 3D Touch function, ... [Read more]

No.27 ,Economy  Jun 19, 2015

Reversing the Disappearance of the Regions – Learning from Success Stories Local (L) Prescriptions Differ from Global (G) Ones
The Key to Revival is to Create Clusters of Corporations and Towns

TOYAMA Kazuhiko, Representative Director and CEO, Industrial Growth Platform, Inc.

As the premise for understanding my unique prescription for what should be done to revive the regions, I would like to point out that the Japanese economy is divided into a global (G) sphere and a local (L) sphere. The players in the global economic sphere are the big corporations centered on the manufacturing industry and the IT industry. They compete with the rest of the world; to use a sporting metaphor, they compete at the Olympic level. On the other hand, the actors in the local economic sphere are community-based small and medium-sized companies in retail and wholesale, transportation, distribution, social welfare, day care, nursing and medical care. The focus is on customer-facing services, but since the locality imposes limitations on location, the sporting metaphor would be a prefectural tournament. ... [Read more]

No.27 ,Economy  Jun 13, 2015

The Piketty Phenomenon and Reality in Japan: Distributive Politics – Overemphasis and the Lack of Growth Policies

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, Chairman of the World Trade Center Tokyo

Dubbed a “rock star” economist as he emerged from France, Paris School of Economics Professor Thomas Piketty has also caused a major sensation in Japan. The Japanese translation of his stand-out publication, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, sold more than 100,000 copies within the first few weeks of its release. In the publishing industry, which is suffering from a structural publishing slump, publishers of the Japanese editions of foreign books have become an object of envy. The theme of the book is inequality, and in Japan, where widening inequality has long been a source of lively debate, “inequality” has become a point of contention which has even found its way into economic policy debates in the National Diet.... [Read more]

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